A spectacular and exceptional crowd gathered at the Festival grounds on Tuesday night, El Salvador Night. It was a night of glamour, beauty, charm and elegance and the highlight of the night was the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant. The five contestants, representing the Mundo Maya countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize dazzled the audience with presentations in sensational cultural costumes, evening wear, swimsuits and a question and answer session. They also performed a dance as a group, moving to the sound of los ilegales, who will be performering on Belize/Caribbean on Saturday, August 23rd. The re-designed and improved grounds with a higher stage provided much better visibility and spacious accommodations.
Judges for the pageant were also from the five corners of the five Mundo Maya countries. They included Tony Diaz, Regional Manager of TACA Airlines; Celi McCorkle, owner of Holiday Hotel; Leticia Ramirez, Honduran Consul in Belize; Roberto Archila, Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Guatemala; and Hillario Perez Quintal, President of Costa Maya de Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Mr. Angel Nuñez, master of ceremonies for the Festival, welcomed the crowd to the 6th International Sea and Air Festival. The National Anthem of El Salvador was played followed by the Belize National Anthem. Mayor Alberto Nuñez officially opened the Festival, welcoming all to celebrate the monumental achievements of the Maya and to share their heritage as one big family. Tony Diaz expressed his joy for El Salvador's continuous participation at the Festival. "This festival is one of the most exciting and important events in Central America," he said. "El Salvador is the 'small-giant' of Central America." Gach Guerrero, Chairman of the Sea and Air Festival, said the dream of the Sea and Air Festival was once again a reality and extended his sincere gratitude to all the sponsors and volunteers of the Festival.
Mr. Angel Nuñez introduced the pageant's mistress and master of ceremonies, Wilema Alamilla and Cesar Gonzales, who conducted the pageant in both Spanish and English. Miss Chiquitita 1997 Yanine Ruiz, Miss Teen San Pedro Louise Williams and Miss San Pedro, Jocylene Bremecamp joined Sharon Dominguez, Miss Belize to present the bouquets. Miss Maria del Soccoro Retolaza, Reina de la Costa Maya '96, placed the sash and crown on Miss Carol Aquino, Reina de la Costa Maya Internacional 1997-98. Miss Aquino will remain in San Pedro for the festival and will lead the Grand Parade on Sunday, August 24.
Unfortunately El Ensamble Folklorico de El Salvador could not make it to the Festival due to lack of transportation to the airport at El Salvador. But Rene Alonzo and La Banda Lazzer was present for the second time. They delighted the audience with a spectacular performance and lively impersonations. A complete report on the 1997 Sea and Air Festival will be in next week's newspaper.